Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Trial Date for Lozano

Mario Lozano's Trial was adjourned today until May 14th, Raw Story has a full account. In an interesting development, the postponement occured with agreement of defense and prosecution and the request of a lawyer retained by Sgrena.

Italian law allows for joint criminal and civil proceedings. This is news to me. It seems that lawyers for Giuliana Sgrena and Rosa Calipari have petioned to have a wrongful death/civil liability suit joined to the prosecution. While I expected a civil suit I was unaware that it would be concurrent with the criminal case.

This is certainly a complication. Mario has retained Ed Hayes a well known New York criminal defense attorney. He will be working with Alberto Biffani, the Italian counsel retained for Mario by the Army. Ed is confident of defeating the criminal case, the civil case is a complication, to say the least. The defense team now has four weeks to craft and execute a defense strategy. While Biffani is being paid by the Army, Ed Hayes and other civilian co-counsels are not.

Mario still needs help to defeat this unjust prosecution, and now unfounded lawsuit. It is amazing to this soldier that Sgrena, who decided to visit a war zone of her own accord and expected her government to risk lives and resources to rescue her is now suing someone else for her misfortune.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Sgrena Slander Saga

In her war of words, generally untrue, Giuliana Sgrena has upped the ante. After two years of smearing Mario Lozano, she has now outright called him a liar. With a complete lack of any intentional irony, she continues to demand that he restrict his discussion of what happened on March 4, 2005, to an appearance at the politically motivated sham trial that may start on Tuesday. On March 14, she published an article, under her own byline, responding to Mario’s recent comment in print and on TV. Sgrena seems to believe that only journalists should be allowed to tell their stories in public. She has certainly milked the publicity the tragedy of Nicola Calipari’s death for her own profit writing articles, publishing a book and touring to hawk it.

She claims that her testimony has been confirmed by experts. But she is really obfuscating and obscuring the truth. She tries to assert her version as factual, but continues to come up short. The US investigation cleared Lozano. It determined that the Italian driver Andrea Carpani was “speeding” at Mario, and refused warning signs to turn around. Mario, the report concluded, followed all the rules and required procedures, but the Italians failed to heed warnings to stop, forcing Lozano to fire his weapon in an attempt to disable the vehicle.

There are some significant differences in the Italian version of the report. But two facts immediately leap out. While differing in some conclusions, the Italian report found no murder. They called it an accident, one for which they blamed the Americans, but an accident even so. The other fact that stands out is that Sgrena has either misunderstood or misrepresented the facts.

For instance one of the key discrepancies is the definition of speeding. Giuliana claims that Italian officials found the speed was only 39 MPH. Lozano asserts the car was going 50 or more MPH, as does his squad leader a civilian police officer trained in speed estimation. The truth may be at either end or in the middle. Sgrena refuses to address the fact that on the scene, Carpani, her driver admitted to being nervous, driving fast, and speeding up at the sound of unrelated gunfire from behind them. The unrelated gunfire may also be affecting Sgrena’s memory. She may have heard shots almost continually. But the ones fired from the front definitely came after the warning light was used.

Apparently Giuliana Sgrena does not consider a car coming straight at you at 40 or more MPH to be speeding. Perhaps she should stand in front of one to get a sense of the effect. Add that to the fact that the driver ignored the light and the warning shots. Add that to the fact that Lozano and his mates had been warned that car bomber were out that night. He was scared and followed the rules. He followed the rules that applied in Iraq.

Sgrena says there was no roadblock, just a mobile patrol on a curve. ????? How does she think checkpoints are conducted? Yes they were on a curve. They were on an approach ramp to Route Irish an Iraqi highway. They’re mission was to close the road for a portion of that evening. It may not have looked to her like a checkpoint. But in Iraq, two American Humvees across the road IS a checkpoint.

There is a further dispute over the number of shots fired, and their placement. The Italians focused on the fact that the ammunition belt was missing 58 rounds. They ignored all the credible testimony of our soldiers, stating that rounds had been fired from that belt on previous occasions. US testimony and the US report concluded that Lozano fired eleven rounds. Several hit the tire, several the engine, several unfortunately entered the vehicle. The idea that Lozano fired 57 rounds at the passengers and one at the engine is preposterous.

By Sgrena’s own testimony she and Calipari were both taking cover by throwing themselves down on the back seat. Actually she says Calipari threw himself over her. Then how did two rounds strike them? They would have been behind the engine no? Mario Lozano stitched his burst of fire from the lower right side of the tire, to the engine block. The last two shots may have struck the windshield, but he was hardly aiming for the passengers. The driver, who didn’t duck, and was in front of Sgrena escaped unscathed.

The Italian report, while erroneously assuming that 58 shots were fired, NEVER asserts that 58 shots impacted the vehicle. That IS a Sgrena fantasy. One that may be generated by her anti-American attitude or it may be a result of her trauma that night. Sgrena, in fact, backs up Lozano’s account of helping her, while at the same time continuing her slander of his and his fellow soldier’s actions that night.

She complains that he has changed his story regarding the aftermath. The US report says Mario was in shock and needed to compose himself. Mario last week described picking her up in his arms and carrying her to his Humvee, to take her to the hospital. Sgrena backs up the latter while scoffing at the former. She complains of lying on the cold ground for fifteen minutes, as if the Lozano’s squad was punishing her. Actually they were working frantically to try to save Calipari, and to stabilize her. Having applied first aid in both combat and to civilian accident victims, I can tell Giuliana that a fifteen minute wait on the ground is not excessive, especially for a stabilized patient.

I wish she would put it all together. In the fifteen minutes after he was forced to shoot at a vehicle which he reasonably considered a car bomb, a shaken Lozano pulled himself together. He then helped her into the vehicle. There is no contradiction there. Giuliana’s assertion that the humvee was only going six miles an hour enroute to the hospital is too ridiculous to generate a response.

Mario Lozano was following the rules. Those were the Rules of Engagement, issued by his command authority. Unlike Giuliana Sgrena who is a persistent liar, I hate to repeat myself. But those rules are the legal authority governing US soldiers in Iraq. They constitute a legal framework under the Geneva Convention, which describes the rules for an occupying power. The Italians signed the Geneva Convention, and as a participating member of the coalition in Iraq, they cannot argue that the US rules are unlawful. The Italian laws that claim worldwide jurisdiction are not part of any treaty or convention. Mario Lozano is being tried under a set of laws that have no authority over him. That’s a fact.

As for Giuliana, the serial liar, maybe she should hire a lawyer. While some of her beliefs about that night may result from twisted memories formed during a horrifying incident, some of her story is obviously fabricated, or at least told with no concern for the truth. As I understand it, Italian law allows for cross examination and has penalties for perjury, just like ours. One day soon Ms. Sgrena will face a blistering cross examination from an attorney with less mercy than the soldier who helped her to the hospital. No this lawyer will be concerned only with the truth. And he will expose and destroy Sgrena’s lies. That too is a fact.